8 Concerts to Catch This Weekend

Friday, Sept. 19

Iris Dement

Before issuing Sing the Delta in 2012, singer-songwriter Iris Dement, one of alt-country’s best songwriters, must have been suffering from a serious case of writer’s block. Delta was her first album of original tunes in 16 years; her last studio effort, 2004’s Lifeline, was a collection of traditional gospel tunes. So was Sing the Delta worth the wait? Yes and no. The opening track, “Go Ahead and Come Home,” is a ramshackle number with good energy, and “If That Ain’t Love” is like a gorgeous waltz. But Dement too often settles for somber or dreary tunes such as “Before the Colors Fade” and “Out of the Fire.” Expect tonight’s show to be a bit livelier. Pieta Brown opens at 8 p.m. at the Music Box Supper Club. (Jeff Niesel) $30 ADV, $35 DOS

Phillip Phillips

When singer-songwriter Phillip Phillips, winner of Season 11 of American Idol, wound up with a hit album, it almost seemed by accident. “Home,” the album’s hugely popular single, sounded so much like a Mumford & Sons song, you had to wonder if fans even knew it was Phillips singing. His follow-up album sticks with the tried-and-true as a predictable pattern of vocals alternates from whispers to screams; and “Raging Fire,” the album’s first single, doesn’t deviate from formula, either, as Phillips croons, “Come out, come out, come out/won’t you turn my soul into a raging fire.” Expect to hear these big hits at tonight’s show which starts at 8 at the State Theatre. (Niesel) $20-$49

The War on Drugs

At every point on its most recent album, Lost in the Dream, the War on Drugs toes the line between the ontological and the physical. “I was able to unlock the magic for each song,” frontman Adam Granduciel told Scene earlier this year. “And it’s definitely a lot looser; we’re not locked into a lot of drum machine stuff for the songs on this record. They’re just becoming a little bit bigger, a little livelier.” The last time the guys came to Cleveland, they played the storied Grog Shop, and the room’s size constraints were palpable. This time, they’ll be opening up their sound at House of Blues downtown, letting all that unlocked magic flow a little more freely. The show starts at 8 tonight at House of Blues and is part of Downtown Festival Cleveland, an indie rock festival taking place at House of Blues, the Grog Shop and the Beachland. (Eric Sandy)

Saturday, Sept. 20


In 2002, producer/DJ RJD2 made a sensational debut with Dead Ringer, an album released on El-P's Def Jux Records. Last year's More Is Than Isn't features groovy tunes that sound both vintage and modern — something the producers of Mad Men picked up on when they chose his "A Beautiful Mine" to be the show's theme song. Live, you can expect him to work on four turntables and two sampler pads while he cuts and scratches vinyl records. The show starts at 10 p.m. at the Grog Shop. Locals p. stoops and Smokescreen open the show. (Niesel) $22

John Luther Adams

It’s not often a Pulitzer Prize winning musician comes to town. With that in mind, an appearance by Alaskan classical composer John Luther Adams is all the more noteworthy. Tonight at 7 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Adams will give a sneak-preview of Veils and Vesper, an immersive sound environment he created in 2005. You can enjoy the entire six-hour installation on Fridays and Saturdays at the church; the music plays from noon to 6 p.m., Sept. 26 through Dec. 1. Tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Lake View Cemetery, Adams will be on hand for Inuksuit, a site-specific, day-long piece for 99 percussionists that’s meant to be performed outdoors. Admission to both events is free. (Niesel)

The Two Man Gentleman Band

After a two-year hiatus, the Two Man Gentleman Band is back. The band’s just issued the aptly named Enthusiastic Attempts at Hot Swing & String Band Favorites, a terrific album of swing tunes that sounds like it was recorded decades ago. The duo — singer-guitarist Andy Bean and singer-bassist Fuller Condon — sounds particularly spirited on tunes such as “The Dallas Rag,” a rousing instrumental, and the twangy “My Blue Heaven.” The show starts at 7:30 p.m. at Music Box Supper Club. (Niesel) $10 ADV, $12 DOS

Sunday, Sept. 21


Most of the songs on moe.'s new album No Guts, No Glory in fact were written as acoustic songs, and many still feature aural elements of the same. You can hear traces in "Do or Die" while "The Pines and the Apples Trees" actually kept its acoustic profile fairly intact. As it happens, about half the tunes on the new album had been appearing in set lists for several months, if not years, as in the case of "Billy Goat." That's the Rob Derhak-penned tune that closes out No Guts, No Glory, and it's one that might have appeared on the preceding album, were it not for Derhak really honing the intent of the song and realizing sharply that it didn't fit with that certain mold back in 2012. Moe. is an intentional band. With a penchant for five-part improvisation on stage and a focus on the live experience, they've gotta be. It's a "work ethic" thing that forms the backbone of this band. See for yourself with a live performance tonight at 8 p.m. at the Kent Stage. (Sandy) $34

Wakey! Wakey!

On the Wakey! Wakey!'s new album, Salvation, Michael Grubbs' gospel background shows up in the band's music. It's apparent right from the opening notes of "All It Takes Is a Little Love." A song such as "Through the Night" features guttural vocals but benefits from cooing backing vocals and an infectious synthesizer riff; the retro-sounding "Stop the World" has a good bouncy beat to it as well. Even when Grubbs gets all touchy feely on the sparse "I Like You," the song works because he takes such a direct approach and sounds so fricking giddy. The show starts at 7 p.m. at House of Blues Cambridge Room. (Niesel) $12 ADV, $14 DOS

Like this story?
SCENE Supporters make it possible to tell the Cleveland stories you won’t find elsewhere.
Become a supporter today.

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
Scroll to read more Music News articles

Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.